The tvvoo Bookes of Francis Bacon.

Of the proficience and aduancement of Learning, diuine and humane







POESIE is a part of Learning in measure of words for the most part restrained: but in all other points extremely licensed: and doth truly referre to the Imagination: which being not tyed to the Lawes of Matter; may at pleasure ioyne that which Nature hath seuered: & seuer that which Nature hath ioyned, and so make vnlawfull Matches & diuorses of things: Pictoribus atque Poetis etc. It is taken in two senses in respect of Wordes or Matter; in the first sense it is but a Character of stile, and belongeth to Arts of speeche, and is not pertinent for the present. in the later, it is (as hath beene saide) one of the principall Portions of learning: and is nothing else but FAINED HISTORY, which may be stiled as well in Prose as in Verse.

The vse of this FAINED HISTORIE, hath beene to giue some shadowe of satisfaction to the minde of Man in those points, wherein the Nature of things doth denie it, the world being in proportion inferiour to the soule: by reason whereof there is agreeable to the spirit of Man, a more ample Greatnesse, a more exact Goodnesse; and a more absolute varietie than can bee found in the Nature of things. Therefore, because the Acts [2E2r] or Euents of true Historie, haue not that Magnitude, which satisfieth the minde of Man, Poesie faineth Acts and Euents Greater and more Heroicall; because true Historie propoundeth the successes and issues of actions, not so agreable to the merits of Virtue and Vice, therefore Poesie faines them more iust in Retribution, and more according to Reuealed Prouidence, because true Historie representeth Actions and Euents, more ordinarie and lesse interchanged, therefore Poesie endueth them with more Rarenesse, and more vnexpected, and alternatiue Variations. So as it appeareth that Poesie serueth and conferreth to Magnanimitie, Moralitie, and to delectation. And therefore it was euer thought to haue some participation of diuinesse, because it doth raise and erect the Minde, by submitting the shewes of things to the desires of the Mind; whereas reason doth buckle and bowe the Mind vnto the Nature of things. And we see that by these insinuations and congruities with mans Nature and pleasure, ioyned also with the agreement and comfort it hath with Musicke, it hath had accesse and estimation in rude times, and barbarous Regions, where other learning stoode excluded.

The diuision of Poesie which is aptest in the proprietie thereof (besides those diuisions which are common vnto it with history: as fained Chronicles, fained liues, & the Appendices of History, as fained Epistles, fained Orations, and the rest) is into POESIE [2E2v] NARRATIVE; REPRESENTATIVE, and ALLVSIVE. The NARRATIVE is a meere imitation of History with the excesses before remembred; Choosing for subject commonly Warrs, and Loue; rarely State, and sometimes Pleasure or Mirth. REPRESENTATIVE is as a visible History, and is an Image of Actions as if they were present, as History is of actions in nature as they are that is past; ALLVSIVE or PARABOLICALL, is a NARRATION applied onely to expresse some speciall purpose or conceit. Which later kind of Parabolical wisedome was much more in vse in the ancient times, as by the Fables of Aesope, and the briefe sentences of the seuen, and the vse of Hieroglyphikes may appeare. And the cause was for that it was then of necessitie to expresse any point of reason, which was more sharpe or subtile than the vulgar in that maner, because men in those times wanted both varietie of examples, and subtiltie of conceit: And as Hierogliphikes were before Letters, so parables were before arguments: And neuerthelesse now and at all times they doe retaine much life and vigor, because reason cannot bee so sensible, nor examples so fit.

But there remaineth yet another vse of POESY PARABOLICAL, opposite to that which we last mentioned: for that tendeth to demonstrate, and illustrate that which is taught or deliuered, and this other to retire and obscure it: That is when the Secrets and Misteries of Religion, Pollicy, or Philoso[2E3r]phy, are inuolued in Fables or Parables. Of this in diuine Poesie we see the vse is authorised. In Heathen Poesie we see the exposition of Fables doth fall out sometimes with great felicitie, as in the Fable that the Gyants being ouerthrowne in their warre against the Gods, the Earth their mother in reuenge thereof brought forth Fame.

Illam terra Parens, ira irritata Deorum,
Extremam, vt perhibent, Cœo Enceladoque Sororem

expounded, that when Princes & Monarchies haue suppressed actuall and open Rebels, then the malignitie of the people, which is the mother of Rebellion, doth bring forth Libels & slanders, and taxations of the states, which is of the same kind with Rebellion, but more Feminine: So in the Fable that the rest of the Gods hauing conspired to bind Iupiter, Pallas called Briareus with his hundreth hands to his aide, expounded, that Monarchies neede not fear any courbing of their absolutenesse by Mighty Subiects, as long as by wisdome they keepe the hearts of the people, who will be sure to come in on their side: So in the fable, that Achilles was brought vp vnder Chyron the Centaure, who was part a man, & part a beast, expounded Ingenuously, but corruptly by Machiauell, that it belongeth to the education and discipline of Princes, to knowe as well how to play the part of the Lyon, in violence, and the Foxe in guile, as of the man in virtue and Iustice. Neuerthelesse in many the like encounters, I doe rather think that the fable was first, and the exposition deuised, [2E3v] then that the Morall was first, & thereupon the fable framed. For I finde it was an auncient vanitie, in Chrysippus, that troubled himselfe with great contention to fasten the assertions of the Stoicks vpon fictions of the ancient Poets: But yet that all the Fables and fictions of the Poets, were but pleasure and not figure, I interpose no opinion. Surely of those Poets which are now extant, euen Homer himselfe (notwithstanding he was made a kinde of Scripture, by the later Schooles of the Grecians) yet I should without any difficultie pronounce, that his Fables had no such inwardnesse in his owne meaning: But what they might haue, vpon a more originall tradition, is not easie to affirme: for he was not the inuentor of many of them. In this third part of Learning which is Poesie, I can report no deficience. For being as a plant that commeth of the lust of the earth, without a formall seede, it hath sprung vp, and spread abroad more then any other kinde: But to ascribe vnto it that which is due for the expressing of affections, passions, corruptions and customes, we are beholding to Poets, more then to the Philosophers workes, and for wit and eloquence not much lesse then to Orators harangues. But it is not good to stay too long in the Theater: let vs now passe on to the iudicial Place or Pallace of the Mind, which we are to approach and view, with more reuerence and attention.





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The tvvoo Bookes of Francis Bacon.
Of the proficience and aduancement of Learning, diuine and humane.
London: Printed for Henrie Tomes 1605.

Unpaginiert. 2E1v - 2E3v

Paragraphs according to J. Spedding's 1854 edition: The second book, IV.1-5.

Online-Ausgabe: Exemplar Cambridge University Library, STC (2nd ed.) / 1164
ProQuest. Early English Books Online.

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Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).



Kommentierte und kritische Ausgaben





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